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bish were the remains of a gutter or trough made of cedar, placed there to carry off water from the mine. At the bottom of the excavation a piece of white cedar timber was found on which were the marks of an axe. Cedar shovels, mauls, copper gads or wedges, charcoal, and ashes were discovered, over which “primeval” forest trees had grown to full size. Modern mining on Lake Superior began effectively in 1845. The whole copper region has not been fully explored. Works of the ancient miners are found at all the mines of any importance; and they show remarkable skill in discovering and tracing actual veins of the metal. Colonel Charles Whittlesey, one of the best authorities on this point, believes the Mound-Builders worked the copper-beds of that region during “a great length of time,” and more of their works will undoubtedly be explored when the forests shall be cleared away from those portions of the copper region not yet worked by modern miners. So far as they have been traced, they every where show the same methods, the same implements, and the same peculiarities of both knowledge and lack of knowledge in the old miners.
THAT the Mound-Builders and their works belong to a distant period in the past is evident; but, of course, we have no means of determining their antiquity with any approach to accuracy, no scheme of chronology by which their distance from us in time can be measured. Nevertheless, some things observed in their remains make it certain that the works are very ancient.
1. One fact showing this is pointed out by those who have examined them carefully as follows: None of these works (mounds and inclosures) occur on the lowest-formed of the river terraces, which mark the subsidence of the western streams; and as there is no good reason why their builders should have avoided erecting them on that terrace, while they raised them promiscuously on all the others, it follows, not unreasonably, that this terrace has been formed since the works were erected. It is apparent, also, that in some cases the works were long ago partly destroyed by streams which have since receded more than half a mile, and at present could not reach them under any circumstances. Those streams generally show four successive terraces, which mark four distinct eras of their subsidence since they began to flow in their present courses. The fourth terrace, on which none of the works are found, marks the last and longest of these periods; and it marks also the time since the MoundBuilders ceased to occupy the river-valleys where it was formed. The period marked by this fourth terrace must be the longest, because the excavating power of such streams necessarily diminishes as their channels grow deeper. This geological change, which has taken place since the latest of the mounds and inclosures were constructed, shows that the works are very old; no one can tell how old. To count the years is impossible; but we can see that the date, if found, would take us back to a remote period in the past. 2. Great antiquity is indicated by the skeletons taken from the mounds. Every skeleton of a Mound-Builder is found in a condition of extreme decay. It sometimes . appears that the surface of a mound has been used by the wild Indians for interments; but their skeletons, which are always found well preserved, can be readily distinguished by their position in the mounds, as well as by other peculiarities. The decayed bones of MoundBuilders are invariably found within the mounds, never on the surface, usually at the bottom of the structure, and nearly always “in such a state of decay as to render all attempts to restore the skull, or, indeed, any part of the skeleton, entirely hopeless.” Not more than one or two skeletons of that people have been recovered in a condition suitable for intelligent examination. It is stated in the work of Squier and Davis that the only skull belonging incontestably to an individual of the Mound-Building race, which has been preserved entire,
was taken from a mound situated on a knoll (itself arti. ficial apparently) on the summit of a hill, in the Scioto Valley, four miles below Chillicothe. What, save time itself, can have brought these skele. tons to a condition in which they fall to pieces when touched, and are ready to dissolve and become dust? All the circumstances attending their burial were unusually favorable for their preservation. The earth around them has invariably been found “wonderfully compact and dry.” And yet, when exhumed, they are in such a decomposed and crumbling condition that to restore them is impossible. Sound and well-preserved skeletons, known to be nearly two thousand years old, have been taken from burial-places in England, and other European countries less favorable for preserving them. The condition of an ancient skeleton can not be used as an accurate measure of time, but it is sufficiently accurate to show the difference between the ancient and the modern, and in this case it allows us to assume that these extremely decayed skeletons of the Mound-Builders are much more than two thousand years old. Those familiar with the facts established by geologists and palaeontologists are aware that remains of human skeletons have been discovered in deposits of the “Age of Stone” in Western Europe; not to any great extent, it is true, although the discoveries are sufficient to show that fragments of skeletons belonging to that age still exist. It is not without reason, therefore, that the condition of decay in which all skeletons of the MoundBuilders are exhumed from their burial-places is considC
ered a proof of their great antiquity. There is no other explanation which, so far as appears, can be reasonably accepted. 3. The great age of these mounds and inclosures is shown by their relation to the primeval forests in which most of them were discovered. I say primeval forests, because they seemed primeval to the first white men who explored them. Of course there were no unbroken forests at such points as the Ohio Valley, for instance, while they were occupied by the Mound-Builders, who were a settled agricultural people, whose civilized industry is attested by their remains. If they found forests in the valleys they occupied, these were cleared away to make room for their towns, inclosures, mounds, and cultivated fields; and when, after many ages of such occupation, they finally left, or were driven away, a long period must have elapsed before the trees began to grow freely in and around their abandoned works. Moreover, observation shows that the trees which first make their appearance in such deserted places are not regular forest trees. The beginning of such growths as will cover them with great forests comes later, when other preliminary growths have appeared and gone to decay. When the Ohio Valley was first visited by Europeans it was covered by an unbroken forest, most of the trees being of great age and size; and it was manifest that several generations of great forest trees had preceded those found standing in the soil. The mounds and inclosures were discovered in this forest, with great trees growing in them. Eight hundred rings of annual growth